Hot Seats

The announcement that Senator Chuck Hagel would be leaving the senate at the end of his term sparked speculation from the horse race whisperers as to the fate of his seat, particularly to the chances that Democrat Bob Kerrey has at deepening the Democratic majority.

But make no doubt there are other races out there, and at least two that promise to be high profile are looking up for Democrats.

Our first stop takes us to Minnesota, home to toe tappers and ex-professional wrestlers turned governor.  Back in 2002, Norm Coleman won his senate seat by a mere 2 points over then candidate Walter Mondale who had filled in at the last second for Paul Wellstone who had died in a tragic plane crash.

Now, as we head into Coleman’s first defense of his seat he finds stiff competition from a somewhat unlikely source, former SNL writer/actor, as well as Liberal radio personality Al Franken.  Last time I checked in, Coleman had Franken down by a two digit margin, but since then Franken has come to within five points, with the official polls ringing up at 46% for Coleman and 41% for Franken.

I say look for this to continue to change.  With the exception of his platform perhaps being a little too liberal to be palatable, I’ve always thought Al Franken would make a wicked good candidate.  Brains, a well versed command of the facts mingled with his experience as a comedic writer and actor had the potential to give the ex-comedian the perfect blend of both style and substance.

While stances on things like gay marriage may act as an obstacle, what does facilitate Franken’s run for the Senate is a tendancy for Minnesotans to vote for out of the box candidates such as Jesse Ventura.

It’ll be interesting to see those two debate.

Next, we’re going to take a plane trip from Minnesota (avoiding the allure of men’s restrooms) and fly on down to my home here in Virginia.  With Senator Warner announcing the end of HIS term, we find ourselves with another open seat.

The leading contender for the seat should he choose to run?  Well, that would be Warner.  No, not John Warner, but former governor of Virginia Mark Warner, a Democrat who left office with ridiculously high approval ratings, helping to install his Lt. Governor Tim Kaine as his replacement. 

In a match-up of former Virginia Governors, a Rasmussen Reports telephone survey finds Warner leading Jim Gilmore by twenty percentage points, 54% to 34%. Warner also starts the season with a comfortable lead over Virginia Congressman Tom Davis. The Rasmussen Reports poll shows Warner attracting 57% of the vote while Davis earns 30%.

Whew.  That’s some serious leading of the pack right there.  But while Warner could handily replace Warner in the Senate, all is not as easy as it seems.  First you have to convince Mark Warner to run in the first place.

After turning the keys of Virginia over to Tim Kaine, Speculation began to fly that Warner would make a bid for the White House next.  His centrist politics, and status as a Southern Governor made him attractive as a candidate, but while a PAC or two had been established along with a few netroot campaigns to help him along, Warner opted out of a White House run to spend more time with his family.

With that being taken into account I wouldn’t count any chickens before they’re hatched, but one thing is certain, given Gilmore’s rather unimpressive Presidential bid, I find it unlikely that a romp with Warner for the Senate would be equally doomed.

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